Current Issues in the Philosophy of Mind

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Students on-site
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Course Description: 

Three important areas of the philosophy of mind will be covered, with the intention of presenting ‘state of the art’ introduction to all three. They are; (1) the mind-body problem; (2) free-will; (3) the philosophy of perception.

(1) The mind-body problem. This part of the course will consider the ‘knowledge argument’ against physicalism, and responses from Dennett, Lewis, and the ‘phenomenal concept strategy’.

(2) Free-will. We will look at attempts to articulate what free-will is supposed to be; (this is harder than you might imagine); and also arguments, such as van Inwagen’s, against compatibilism.

(3) The philosophy of perception. We will consider attempts by philosophers such as Mike Martin and Bill Brewer to defend naïve realism and disjunctivism; attempts to articulate intentional and representational theories (eg Searle, Crane, Schellenberg). Finally we will see whether the sense-datum theory is fit to be revived.


Learning Outcomes: 

The objective is for students to gain a sophisticated grasp on a range of the basic questions in contemporary philosophy of mind, as set out above. The outcome of studying this course will be that students will be in a good position to go more deeply into any one of these areas if they should wish to pursue it for a dissertation. 


Grading. Grades will primarily be based on the submission of an essay of c2,000 words. The U. S. marking system is grotesquely un- nuanced. Most essays are worth, for example B++,or A-?-, but these have to be resolved to A, A-, B+ etc. I shall mark essays in a nuanced way, and adjust to a ‘legal’ mark on the basis of class contribution. So if an essay is worth B++, and the class contribution has been good, it will get A-, but if not, B+.